Live Review - Stars @ Sonar 3/19/08 (plus some Pash)

If you really want to show your significant other that you love them, what do you do? Of course, buy them flowers. Lots of flowers. Maybe shower them in flowers. And when that's over.......MORE FLOWERS. So that means that if you've been to see Stars on their current US tour, like I did last night at Sonar, you might just be in a relationship with the quirky band from Montreal, because they loveeeeee some flowers. The stage was covered in flowers.

Opening up for Stars was Martin Royle. I had no idea who Martin Royle was, but I found out once arriving that he would be backed by DC's own Pash. Bonus! I guess I missed the update on the Pash website that they were added to the tour at the beginning of March (way to go guys and gal!). Royle played a handful of his own tunes, which he and Pash had apparently had worked on for about a week. Mid-set, Royle left the stage and Pash got to play three of their own songs. Despite a badly crackling bass amp, Pash easily stole the opening show, and certainly earned some new fans. They are enthusiastic (especially Erik Bruner-Yang on lead guitar), polished, and have a talented (and adorable) lead singer in Merideth Munoz. Maybe someday soon I'll be able to see more than a few songs.

Stars took the stage to a thunderous ovation, but clearly they had a lightning fast sound check (see what I did there). The sound for the first 5 songs or so was atrocious, and in my opinion barely reached the level of acceptable by the end of the set. The set spanned the Stars library and included many of my fave's, but it was hard to get into the show. I am a self acknowledged audio snob, but anyone at that show had to be a little disappointed. Despite the poor sound, Stars are gripping live. Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan trade vocals beautifully and really suck you in with their passion for their songs. They really do seem to appreciate their fans (hence the flower shower), and will likely continue to endear themselves to a broader fan base. Go see them, and be enchanted. Maybe you'll even get a flower.


The Night Starts Here
Elevator Love Letter
Soft Revolution
indow Bird
One More Night
Ghost of Genova Heights
Bitches in Tokyo
The Big Fight
Going Going Gone
Midnight Coward
Take Me to the Riot
Your Ex-Lover is dead
Ageless Beauty
In Our Bedroom After the War


My Favourite Book
What I’m Trying to Say
Calendar Girl

Mp3: Stars - Calendar Girl --- Website --- Buy
Mp3: Stars - Reunion
Mp3: Pash - The Best Gun --- Website --- Buy
Mp3: Pash - Kill All the Rich Boys II


DD said...

Nice write-up. My girlfriend and I had fun, but couldn't figure out if the sound quality was bad, or our earplugs were too-constraining (we eventually took them out--but guess it was a combination).

Katherine said...

I wasn't impressed with the sound, either. Based on what I've heard about the venue, I suspect Sonar's sound system contributed to the problems, as well.

soundchica said...

As a bit of a local sound nerd myself, I think I can shed some light on the Stars show. From what I understand, it was Stars first night on their tour with a new sound guy and that may have contributed to the sound. It actually sounded great from the first 5 rows or so, but seemed to be way too quiet if you were standing in the back half of the room. Sonar's PA was definitely a pile before. But they have a new owner now and have sound treated the room and bought a new PA that sounds much better than Ram's Head in the hands of a more seasoned engineer. Just something to consider... If you want to see a good show, check out Spoon there. they have played before and always put on an amazing sounding show...

Anonymous said...

Hey everybody, Just wanted to leave a thought or two on this one. First of all we should be sure before when and how we make any of Baltimore's venues look bad that we are not being a unfair or inaccurate. We are not one of the bigger cities. This means in general we have a harder time getting great artists to B-more. That's why we at Sonar are thankful for all the venues in Baltimore that are doing what they can to bring more artist to our city for us all to enjoy or hate but at least have the chance to judge.

The second point I would like to make is to say;
Anyone is welcome to compare our gear list to others venue our size and I'm sure you'll find it kicks ass in B-more
Yamaha PM5D-RH v2.06 w/AES digital output to crossover
Clearcom with 2 blazons and 2 headsets
ProToolsLE recording, CDJ-1000/iPod/iPhone/Computer for playback
Dolby Lake 4 in/12 out crossover
Main Speaker System:
6x EAW kf850EF Tops
12x EAW sb1000 Subs
2x QSC Powerlight 3425 Amps
2x QSC Powerlight 340 Amps
8x QSC Powerlight 380 Amps
3x 25' Speakon NL8
6x 25' Speakon NL4
3x 50' Speakon NL8
6x 50' Speakon NL4

Yamaha PM5D-RH v2.06
14x RatSound MicroWedges
14x 25' Speakon NL4
12x QSC 4050 Amps
4x JBL PRX 535 Sidefill Tops
4x JBL PRX 518s Sidefill Subs
Whirlwind 48x8 isolated snake w/individual ground lifts
4x Whirlwind 6ch sub snakes
2x Whirlwind 16ch sub snakes
8x Radial j48 Active DIs
8x Radial JPC Active Stereo DIs
8x Whirlwind Imp Passive DIs
10x Shure SM58
10x Shure SM57
2x Shure SM81
6x Shure Beta98
2x Shure Beta52
2x Shure Beta91
6x Sennheiser e604
2x Sennheiser e609
4x Sennheiser MD421
1x Audix D6
2x AKG C460ULS
2x AKG C391B
4x Z-Bars
4x LP Claw
16x Tripod Tall Boom
16x Tripod Short Boom
8x Tripod Mini-Boom
6x Round Base Straight
6x Large Round Base Straight/Boom
6x Large Weighted Studio Boom
20 10' XLR
30 15' CLR
30 20' XLR
20 50' XLR
Full XLR Adapter kit

evilhomer said...

Wow. Thanx everybody for the interest.

I had discussed the possibility of it being a new sound tech for the band to a friend who attended with me. Here at Pasta Primavera we appreciate all the local venues, and their challenges bringing top notch acts to charm city.

Outside of the blogsphere, my paying job is in audio production, and being the nerd I am, had checked out Sonar's production specs before the show, and was quite impressed (although I'm partial to Crown macrotech amps). I assume this was just an off night for one reason or another, and would happily return to Sonar for shows in the future, and would encourage others to do the same.